Once upon a porch

Anything can happen on a porch. Connection. Refreshment. Reflection. Rejection, sometimes. Even buying and selling.

As a child in the sixties, I had the chore of sweeping our small front porch clear of its weekly accumulation of dirt and spiders. Rarely do I remember anyone but company using that porch – and door-to-door salesmen like the Fuller Brush man. He stood his brooms and mops in the porch’s corner, opened his case and spread out his smaller wares on the small top platform. Mom hovered low to inspect; opening tins and sniffing soaps and ointments before choosing.

The fellow never left the porch without leaving a gift: a letter opener or shoe horn, a comb or small plastic fry pan spoon holder, all embossed with the words “Compliments of your Fuller Brush Dealer.”

A big enough porch makes a convenient place to welcome family and guests, even considering today’s pandemic social distancing dictates.) To enjoy a refreshing pause during the dog days of summer. To hello a passing neighbor, wave farewell to a beloved. Or simply to stand and stare, perhaps utter a prayer, as emergency vehicles rush past.

Got rugs to shake? Birds to feed? No better place than a porch for that. For watching the sun set, the moon rise, the stars wink. For shouting out pleasant words like “Dinner!” and less pleasant ones—anxious calls to wandering pets or stern warnings to furry squatters.

Something I’ll never forget happened on my porch at sunrise once. Overnight, the thermometer plummeted to twenty below zero, but Grace Cat insisted on escaping outside for a sniff of morning air. When he didn’t return after an hour, I stood outside the front door and began calling.

“Graaaa…..cy! Here, Grace! Come, kitty, kitty!”

The cat didn’t respond. Someone else did, though. Clear and pure as a silver dart, flew back the voice of a child who loves me. “I hear you, Nana!”

“I hear you too!” I called, tickled.

Our daughter and family lived just a block away then. My voice had floated over to Benjamin, still a youngster, as he stood in his front yard, viewing the sunrise through his family’s telescope.

The cat came back eventually. Years later, I still ponder the wonder of that responsive little voice, piercing the still, chill dawn and reaching me. God’s wireless network; a message transported on frigid Saskatchewan air alone. A sunrise surprise on my porch. I smiled all day.

Having the unexpected voice of someone who loves you waft like a feather and land all by itself on your porch, warms one from the toes up – even on a winter prairie morning.  Makes you want to rush to that child and embrace him.

Imagine another porch, near, but unseen. Imagine Jesus there, calling your name. Imagine recognizing his voice. Answering back, heart full of eager. “Lord, I hear you!”  Imagine his delight. “Child, I hear you too! Come to me!” God never stops calling. Are you listening? Have you answered? No better time than today, my friend.

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